3 million mile Volvo: Long Island man's P1800S won't quit

3 million mile Volvo owned by a Long Island schoolteacher already holds the world record for the highest recorded mileage on a car, but Irvin Gordon's beloved Volvo is expected to hit the 3 million mile mark sometime next year.

Seth Wenig/AP/File
Irv Gordon's Volvo P1800 in Babylon, N.Y. Gordon's car already holds the world record for the highest recorded milage on a car and he is less than 40,000 miles away from passing three million miles on the Volvo.

It just keeps going, and going, and going. No, it's not a battery. It's Irvin Gordon's 1966 Volvo P1800S.

Gordon's small, red two-door has well more than 2 million miles on the odometer, the equivalent of nearly 1,176 times across the globe.

The retired schoolteacher from Long Island hopes to reach the 3 million mile mark by next year. He only has 34,000 miles to go.

The 72-year-old Gordon drives his Volvo everywhere. He has held the Guinness World Records mark for High Mileage Vehicle since 2002 and was the first person to hold that record.

"It's just a car I enjoy driving," he said.

He bought his beloved car on June 30, 1966, for $4,150 at the age of 25. "It was a whole year's salary," he said.

Gordon originally wanted the convertible Volvo with air conditioning, but it was too expensive. He paid extra to have an AM/FM radio, though.

"It was $10 extra, and at that time, $10 was a lot. But an AM/FM radio was a big deal," he said.

Gordon's car has just enough room for him and his essentials. His front bumper is filled with pins of his mileage achievements. Even his license plate says "MILNMILER." And his trunk overflows with the many car parts he thinks he might need when on the road.

"I have a set of everything," he said. "If I have it, then I am not going to need it."

Gordon has been taking road trips since he was a kid and continued through his adult years. He says he would just tell his family to pack their things and hit the road. Gordon's two daughters went on his road trips until they outgrew the tiny red car.

"They just couldn't fit in the back anymore. That is when I bought the station wagon," he explained. "Volvo, of course."

His odometer doesn't have enough digits to display the actual mileage, but Gordon has tune-up records verifying it.

Now divorced, Gordon takes road trips alone. With trips to Montreal, Texas and Michigan in just the last month, the last leg of his trip should not be too hard. It took him 21 years to reach the first million miles and 15 more years to reach 2 million. Gordon averages 85,000 to 100,000 miles per year. Most of his trips are for auto shows, but he also takes trips across the country just for a good cup of coffee.

"I have had coffee in every state," Gordon said. "I am my own travel channel."

The avid driver believes in taking care of his car, and he doesn't let anyone else drive it.

"That's why I bought my girls their own cars," he said.

Jordan Weine is a mechanic at Bay Diagnostic, an auto shop based in Brooklyn and a Volvo expert. He says because Gordon takes care of his car, he is able to get high mileage without much change to the car's original mechanics. The car still has the original engine, though it was rebuilt twice in the car's lifetime.

"How high does a redwood grow? If it is not messed with, it will grow," said Weine, who hasn't worked on Gordon's car. "And there are very few redwood trees and the same goes with this. There are very few people that can achieve 3 million miles."

It is clear that Gordon loves his car and he can't imagine getting rid of it.

"Why would I want to get rid of it?" he asked. "Kind of like a good woman."

Gordon's car has brought him fame. Joe Brusack, a mechanic who worked on his car when it was on its millionth mile more than 20 years ago, said it's come a long way.

"I think it was just amazing that he got this far," he said.

Gordon himself is surprised every time he gets into his car and edges closer to his 3 million mile goal. But the miles have taken a toll on the car. Recently, some black tar got into the car's carburetor. He has to get that fixed before he can hit the road again.

Volvo has sent Gordon to trips around the country and the world to represent Volvo in auto shows.

"I don't think (just) any car could do it," said John Maloney, president and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. "It is a combination of a car beloved by his owner that has gotten Irv to this mileage."

Gordon thinks that his Volvo will last way longer than 3 million miles.

"I have a feeling I'll be dead long before the car."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.